TO THE EDITOR:
While browsing the internet recently I was struck by another story about how tough our year has become. My parents were teenagers in the 1930s. The “dirty thirties” were the decade of the “dust bowl,” bread lines, and mass migrations to California. Both sets of my grandparents lost their South Dakota farms. No rain meant no crops. No crops meant no money. No money meant you couldn’t pay your taxes and the county takes the farm. My maternal grandfather became a barber. My dad’s father managed to keep hold of two acres at the edge of town and grew root vegetables. Potatoes, beets, radishes, carrots—all things you can eat, can store in your root cellar, and can barter at the grocery store for other items of food. Cash was a very scarce commodity, often obtained by bartering eggs. My parents never got completely over the shame of those days even though they succeeded handsomely in life.
Striding forth from the ‘30s my parents ran head-on into the 1940s, head-on into Hitler and Tojo and World War II. Entering the military in those days didn’t mean for 3 or 4 years. It meant you were in the military until the war was over. The war also meant rationing—gas and sugar and coffee and meat and cheese and shoes. My mother was a schoolteacher, and like nurses, there is never a lack of need. Rosie the Riveter symbolized the miraculous explosion of wartime production that allowed this country to provide the goods for the allies to fight and win.
The end of WWII, and two decades of national strife, and the national effort of pulling together to overcome these challenges arrived at last. Tom Brokaw has coined the term, “The Greatest Generation,” to describe their efforts.
The 1950s brought prosperity with only a minor hiccup regarding a conflict in a country called Korea. Minor unless you had a family member that served. The sixties and seventies brought Vietnam. My generation’s 12 years of nightly combat in America’s living rooms. Protests, rifts, and disharmony unknown since the Civil War permeated society. The next two decades saw the explosion of computers, the internet, social media and the “me” society.
An alarm clock went off on 9-11-2001. With the tragedies of the bombing of the twin towers and the Pentagon, the country was momentarily bonded again against a common enemy. Momentarily. But the enemy was too elusive, too ephemeral and the US government has never come to terms with the true climate in the Middle East.
So what’s the point? Here today we have a common enemy, a worldwide enemy, COVID-19. This is something the people of our country can unite against, can fight against together. We have the science that is available to the world. We are frantically developing better science. We must persevere, must act responsibly, must act together.
Instead, we quibble. We are so self-centered, so “me” oriented, so easily led astray by false prophets. We allow ourselves to be dazzled by social media fake news and fake facts. It’s true national leadership has been lacking but with common sense, concern for our brethren, and some grit we can overcome this pandemic. If we show some of the maturity, the tenacity, the faith of our fathers we’ll get through this thing. Think about this—it hasn’t lasted a year yet in this country.
Let’s “grow a set.” Let’s stop whining like a bunch of babies. Let’s wear masks and practice distancing and wash our hands. How can these activities possibly endanger anyone’s personal freedom? Doing these small courtesies enhances the opening of businesses and schools. They expedite the road back to a vibrant America.